June 25, 2017 Will ‘free will’ condemn some Christians?

Will ‘free will’ condemn some Christians?

BBC’s former pastor, Bill Wilson, sometimes repeated the adage that the flavor of the tea is not known until it is put into hot water. This truism is the gist of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.18-23. The only person who succeeded was the one who kept firm hold of the “word of the kingdom”. Three other types of people gave up on the “word of the kingdom” when tempted, but not by God (James 1.13-15; note especially the downward spiral of those tempted, in verse 15). One let satan “snatch” the “word of the kingdom” away quickly; not much hot water was needed. Another “received” the “word of the kingdom” but “stumbled” from “tribulation or persecution (arising) from the word” (confrontations from others about righteous life styles). It took longer for the water to heat from the friction of conflicting perspectives. The third “(heard)” [same gist as “received”] the “word of the kingdom” but let it become strangled overtime by “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches”. Thus, we see from the Parable of the Sower that some people freely give up the only hope of escape available (Galatians 1.4) under the ‘right’ amount of heat from the water satan pours onto their lives.

A. His name is Solomon.

  1. First Kings 11.1-13 tells of the sorrowful end of a most illustrious king of Israel.
  2. He had completed the task for which he was born, the building of the first Temple (1 Chronicles 22.8-10 & 12, 19). This had begun in Solomon’s fourth year (1 Kings 6.37) and taken twenty years (1Kings 6.38 & 9.10; seven years for the Temple and 11 years for his palace) of his forty-year reign (1 Kings 11.42).
  3. [Leadership query: what should Solomon have done after completing his ‘birth assignment’, instead of accumulating for himself? What other purpose might God have had for him? Should he, perhaps, have prayed for another assignment or for God to identify his successor to be groomed for the throne?]
  4. So, it was the last 16 years (40-24; or 29 years if building his palace is not included; 40-11) that became his undoing (it took that long for the ‘water to boil’). This was the period of his pursuit of imaginations (Jeremiah 13.10) chronicled in the book of Ecclesiastes and of his accumulation of things (1 Kings 10.14-29) and women.
  5. First Kings 11.1-8 describes his lust for women who worshipped gods, contrary to the commandment of God (Exodus 34.16). Thus, Solomon fulfilled the warning of the commandment, even spurning God’s warnings in (chapter, verses) 5-14 and 9.2-9.
  6. Solomon did not have to await the Great White Throne Judgment to hear the ‘deeds’ read from the ‘books’ of Revelation 20.11-15. First Kings 11.30-33 is God’s charge against Solomon’s actions, listed in verses 7-8.
  7. Will Solomon’s name be written in the “Book of Life” (Revelation 20.11-15)? I believe that God makes it clear from this chapter and from Ezekiel 18.20&26 that Solomon will not be saved. He took his eyes off his mentor (David) and off his ‘Prize’ (God). His ‘free will’ choices condemned him.

B. But, what about ‘once saved, always saved’?

  1. Is that what the Apostle Paul really wrote in Romans 8.38-39? Would that not be a
contradiction of God in Ezekiel 18.26 (ex. Numbers 15.32-35) and Jesus in Luke 9.62? Would it not contradict the understandings of writers Job (31.26-28), David (Psalm 119.118), Joshua (24.20), and John (1 John 2.24-25 & Revelation 22.19)?
  2. If this is what Paul meant, why does he contradict himself in Romans 11.19-22, Colossians 1.21-23, 1 Timothy 2.15 & 14-15 & 6.10 & 6.20-21, Hebrews 3.6 & 10.38, and, finally in general pronouncement, in Hebrews 6.4-6?
  3. Pay attention to Paul’s choice of words in Hebrews 6.4-6 (underline and italics for emphasis): “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
  4. This is not ‘missing the mark’ of righteousness, which repentance absolves (1 John 1.9); this is turning one’s back on an earlier commitment to John 14.6! There is no return!
  5. If Paul did not mean ‘once saved, always saved’ in Romans 8.38-39, he meant that no ‘external’ force can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  6. But, just as John 3.16 & 47 imply the ‘free will’ of accepting Jesus as Savior and receiving eternal life thereby, the same person may exercise the same, ‘internal’, ‘free will’ to dissociate from God’s Savior for mankind.
  7. “Whosoever” might, also, ‘un-believe’ under satan’s duress and/or temptation like Jesus states in the Parable of the Sower. S/he has ‘free will’.
  8. But, there are consequences, like Solomon found out and Oprah will.

C. Hold firm your confession of faith in Jesus!

  1. Hebrews 10.23-25.
  2. Romans 4.20-25
  3. James 1.6-8
  4. Control your ‘free will’ choices!
  5. And, may your ‘tea’ be strong, producing a “hundredfold” return (Matthew 13.23)!

Will ‘free will’ condemn some Christians? 170625
Praise God!!!

Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com

June 18, 2017 Where are the Raptured during the Judgments?

Where are the Raptured during the Judgments?

This question became my study while reading about the “holy city” New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21.2). New Jerusalem is a city and, metaphorically, the bride of Jesus? Then, is the “bride” at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.11-15? When are we ‘judged’ (Romans 14.10)? And, when do we, as the “bride”, receive our “rewards” (2 Corinthians 5.10, 2 Timothy 2.5)? These questions drew me back to start the sequence of events after the Rapture of believers

A. The Rapture

  1. The church/bride of Jesus is Raptured at the end of the ‘church age’, which Jesus discusses in Revelation 2-3.
  2. Chapter four begins with the ‘calling away’, as some term the Rapture, for John hears “‘Come up here’”, verse one, and “immediately” (verse two) sees the Throne of God. We may not, but John did so he could write about it for us (Revelation 1.1).
  3. The same words, “Come up here”, are said to resurrect and return the two witnesses in Revelation 11.12. [BTW, who are they? Moses is connoted in verse 6 by having the “power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues”. He had done these earlier, in Exodus 7.20-12.30. Elijah is the other, connoted by the “power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy.” He had done this earlier, in 1 Kings 17.1. Could the ‘witness’ event have been part of Jesus’ discussion with them in His Transfiguration? See Matthew 17.1-8.]
  4. So, in the “twinkling of an eye”, (1 Corinthians 15.52), the Paradise of Hades is vacated and Jesus’ followers who are alive on Earth join Him “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4.15-18).

B. The 144,000

  1. With former and current Christians Raptured, only persons in the Pit of Hades and 
non-Christians and Jews remain on Earth.
  2. Revelation 7.1-8 (1) identifies 144,000 Jews, from all tribes but Dan (why 
missing?), as being “sealed” as “servants of our God”.
  3. What is their servitude? Remember that God chose the Jews as His “treasure” among 
the world’s peoples and ordained them as a “kingdom of priests and a holy
nation” (Exodus 19.5-6). Remember, too, how God had treated them differently in Egypt before and during the plagues; see Genesis 47.1-6 and Exodus 9.26, 23, & 12.35-36. Perhaps, then, the 144,000 are God’s priests to the Jews remaining on Earth to tell them about Jesus as Messiah. Will they be saved? Paul makes the affirming case in Romans 9-11 but, seemingly, the dissenting case in Hebrews 10.1-18 and Galatians 3.21-25.
  4. But, the Gentiles remaining will not be saved.

C. The Great White Throne Judgment

  1. Those Raptured will not be there. I acknowledge that this view differs from that of Dr. Wayne Grudem and other theologians who believe this is where Christ followers will get our rewards. I disagree according to the following rationale.
  2. The Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.11-15 is for those who have not accepted God’s salvation described in John 3.16-18 & 6.
  3. The opening of the “books” in Revelation 20.12 reveals this. First, the record of their lives is revealed deed by deed. Then, the Book of Life is opened to to show that their names are not written therein. Thus condemned, they are cast into the “lake of
fire” (verse 15).
  4. We have already walked through this procedure (John 3.16) when we confessed our sin of unbelief (Hebrews 11.6) and resulting sins (Romans 3.23 & 23) and acknowledged Jesus as the only Savior, as in John 14.6 (see John 6.47 & Acts 16.31, too)! We will not need to hear the reading of our misdeeds again, because they have been removed from us (Psalm 103.12, Isaiah 38.17 & 43.25, Micah 7.19)!
  5. Regarding Jesus separating “sheep from goats” in Matthew 25.31-46, understand that this passage continues a discourse about End Times that began in Chapter 24 with the disciples’ question. Here, Jesus emphasizes the mercy that the Jewish leaders did not practice (Matthew 23.23), perhaps giving them fair warning that the “books” will be opened and that He will itemize their charges (Acts 17.31).

D. Here comes the Bride

  1. After the Great White Throne Judgment, the Bride makes her entrance; see Revelation 21.2. Notice that the New Jerusalem is described as “the holy city” and as a “bride adorned for her husband”.
  2. Revelation 19.7-8 describes her as clothed in “‘fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”. Revelation 21.9-11 reveals that she has “radiance like a most rare jewel”, perhaps, described in verses 19-21.
  3. Then, Revelation 22.12 records Jesus saying, “‘I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work.” (My underline.) This is the time Christians receive their rewards, not at the Great White Throne Judgment.

E. Where has the Bride been?

  1. After joining Jesus in the air, we have been excluded from the wrath of the broken seals and bowl and trumpet judgments of Revelation 6-18 and have admired our Hero in the victories of Revelation 19.11-20.3.
  2. We have witnessed the 1000-Year reign of Jesus with “the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness” (Revelation 20.4-5), perhaps those of Revelation 6.9-10. (My underline.)
  3. Finally, we have applauded as “fire came down…and devoured [the deceived nations]” that had “surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Old Jerusalem; Revelation 20.7-10).
  4. We have been safe since the Rapture because of John 3.16!

Praise God!!! 170618 Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com

 

June 11, 2017 Words Beginning With RE

Words Beginning With RE

Walter Chrysler never thought it would happen. He had founded the Chrysler Corporation in 1925 from the remains of the Maxwell Motor Company and acquired the Dodge Brothers Company in 1928. He added Plymouth and DeSoto as brands that same year. He had learned diversification while with General Motors Buick Division. Post-WWII declines, unwise European expansion, and changing US markets brought Walter’s company to the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1970s. Only a $1.5 Billion loan guarantee from the US government saved his company. Thus was born The New Chrysler Corporation (Wikipedia). Walter had not planned these events for his company but involving other people — less-dedicated employees and fickle customers who migrate for emotional reasons — can bring unintended consequences. How does this story illustrate the periods of Biblical events in Genesis 1-2, Genesis 3Revelation 20, and Revelation 21-22? These periods can be titled ‘The Original Creation by God’, ‘Man’s Imagination Needs God’s Salvation’, and ‘The Re-Creation by God’. What is the relation of the “new earth” in Revelation 21.1 to the “earth” that God created in Genesis 1.1-2? God placed man in the Original Creation (Genesis 1.26 & 2.7). Does He intend to populate the “new earth’, His Re-Created Earth, with us who will have joined Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4.16-17)?

A. The Original Creation by God.

  1. God made something out of nothing, literally and figuratively (Genesis 1.2-2.1; Hebrews 11.3).
  2. Day 1: light separating night from day [notice God’s emphasis of light out of darkness, “the 
evening and the morning were the…day”; Solomon picks up on this nuance in Proverbs 4.18; 
God’s revelation of Himself].
  3. Day 2: sky/observable heavens.
  4. Day 3: oceans and dry lands that sprout vegetation to replenish man’s body with nutrients from 
the soils from which he was made (Genesis 1.29).
  5. Day 4: night lights and the Sun to rule over respective periods of time.
  6. Day 5: fish and birds [God had already prepared their foods on Day 3].
  7. Day 6: livestock, “creeping things”, and “beasts of the earth according to their kinds” and their 
“every green herb for food” (Genesis 1.30); man “made”, not created, in the image of God to 
“have dominion over the fish…birds…cattle…all the earth…every creeping thing.”
  8. Notice that everything was created for man to administer for and with God, Who owns all 
things (Deuteronomy 10.14; Psalm 24.1; Psalm 115.16). God’s plan for man.
  9. God “planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man…to tend and keep 
it” (Genesis 2.8-15). Woman, too, was “made” (Genesis 2.18-24) in the Garden. Man was to expand the Garden until it consumed the surface of the Earth, I believe, for the Garden would have become too small with the addition of children’s children.

B. Man’s Imagination Needs God’s Salvation

  1. Jeremiah 13.10 explains the cause of the problems the Earth began and continues to experience from man’s imagination, which he continues to give into deceptions by satan’s evil system.
  2. Eve’s “fruit” episode was the stimulation of wicked imaginations; see Genesis 3.1-24.
  3. God created the rainbow after His do-over of Creation through the Flood and Noah (Genesis 9.13).
  4. But, when God suggested to Moses another do-over of His rebellious nation of priests 
(Exodus 19.6; Deuteronomy 9.13-14), Moses demurred because that would connote to the nations of the Promised Land His inability to fulfill His promise (Deuteronomy 9.26-29). How frustrated He must have been, like us with a petulant child!
  5. So, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to become the propitiation for those of sinful mankind who would receive this gift; see John 1.12, 3.16 & 14.6.

C. The Re-Creation by God

  1. Apparently, God is not finished with His Created Earth, as John states in Revelation 21.1 & 5.
  2. Who will populate this “new earth”? Perhaps, Revelation 21.3-4 answers: man will. God will 
be there, too!
  3. Could this be the Eternal Heaven? There are not remaining verses that indicate that man 
leaves the New Earth again.
  4. The old Earth, sea, sky/heavens have been discarded (Rev. 21.1, 20.11) like the clear sheet 
torn from a race car driver’s visor on Pit Row to remove oil and obstacles from his or her view.
  5. Once the Earth is Renewed, we will return with Jesus to occupy the entire globe. Alcorn 
quotes Albert Wolters’ Creation Regained (1985. Eerdmans. Grand Rapids.): “we are reinstated as God’s managers on earth. The original good creation is to be restored” (Heaven, p. 89).

C. Words beginning with RE

  1. “Albert Wolters points out that most of Christ’s miracles ‘are miracles of restoration— 
restoration of health, restoration to life, restoration to freedom from demonic possession. Jesus’ miracles provide us with a sample of the meaning of redemption: a freeing of creation from the shackles of sin and evil and a reinstatement of creaturely living as intended by God’” (Alcorn, p. 89-90).
  2. Notice Paul’s similar writing in Romans 8.19-25, especially verse 22 (caused by imagination).
  3. “God placed mankind on Earth to fill it, rule it, and develop it to God’s glory” (Alcorn, p.90).
  4. “God determined from the beginning that he will redeem mankind and restore the earth. Why? 
So his original plan will be fulfilled” (Alcorn, p. 90).

Walter Chrysler would have been proud of Lee Iacocca’s restoring the New Chrysler to profitability. God will be proud of man living out His righteousness without the interference of satan, who will have been cast into the Lake of Fire.
Alcorn, R. 2004. Heaven. Tyndale House Publishers. Carol Stream, IL.

Praise God!!! Copyright (C) by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com

May 28, 2017 Leaving for Another Paradise

Leaving for Another Paradise

“All aboard!” So said the Southern Railway conductor when my grandmother and I departed Washington, DC, for Greenville, SC, when I was fifteen years old, and, again, upon our return. The Apostles Paul writes that we will hear similar words when Jesus leaves Father God’s side (Psalm 110.1; Acts 7.56) and makes a stop for us; see 1 Thessalonians 4.15-18. Some passengers will get to board before others, as Paul explains, but all will find a seat. Which group you are in depends upon when the Father (Matthew 24.36) says your “room” is ready; see John 14.2 (ESV). I can hear the echoes of “Hallelujah” and “Praise God” aboard that train now!

A. Second Group to Board: Earthlings

  1. Like Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4.17, the second group will be the Earthlings who are alive when the “Archangel” Conductor sounds the final call and the herald trumpet announces the King’s arrival on rails of air (Deuteronomy 33.26; Psalm 104.3).
  2. These have believed John 3.16 & 47-50 and have accepted the exclusivity of John 14.6. How joyful it will be, especially, for those who may be successfully fulfilling 2 Corinthians 5.20 when the call comes!
  3. [How sad it will be for those refusing reconciliation! Perhaps, you can imagine their similar pleas when contemplating the fate of those who drowned in the Flood, see Genesis 7.17, or those who refused to look to the snake on the pole, Numbers 21.9, and died from the toxin. Their criticisms became their last will and testament. How analogous are Jesus’ words in Matthew 7.21-23 mixing philosophy with justification?”]
  4. It won’t matter what these departing Earthlings are wearing when the call comes. For, Paul writes that they will be changed in a “moment, in the twinkling of an eye” [= 23 or 5.19 millisecond, depending upon whether one is a ‘sleepy’ or ‘non-sleepy’ bus driver; see www.improbably.com/NEWS at Google: ‘how fast is the twinkling of an eye’] (1Corinthians 15.51-53). Mortal ‘Earth-suits’ are instantly replaced by one “imperishable”; i.e., “immortal” or eternal!
  5. Jesus discusses such ‘twinkling’ in Luke 17.18-36. He seems to cover the night and day of 24 hours in verses 34-35; it won’t matter what time zone you are in.
  6. Writer’s clarification: I hope that I am among this group but write about these “Earthlings” with necessary uncertainty.

B. First Group to Board: Leaving One Paradise for Another

  1. According to Paul’s 1 Thessalonians 4.16, residents of the Paradise of Hades join Jesus first. How did Paul know? Verse 15 states that Jesus told him directly. [Later, Jesus would tell the Apostle John to write the Revelation to encourage readers; see Revelation 1.1-3. Perhaps, this was Jesus’ good news to those in the Paradise of Hades when He escorted the thief after His Crucifixion (Luke 23.43), that their time there would not be much longer (Ephesians 4.9-10; Revelation 6.9-11).]
  2. Obviously, they get their “imperishable” and “immortal” bodies first; see 1 Corinthians 15.51-57. This ‘release’ from Hades is the fulfillment of verses 54-55. The ‘”victory” over death is resurrection to join Jesus in the air, since the dead believers are in Hades, the place of the dead; that is, in Paradise and not in the Pit (Luke 16.19-31; Isaiah 14.12-15). Being first to join Jesus may be their reward, even though a millisecond of time. Consider 2 Corinthians 3.17, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
  3. But, what bodies do those in the Paradise of Hades have while there, since they left their Earth-suits behind (James 2.26) and have not yet received their “immortal” bodies? Perhaps something is between, as is exemplified by Moses. Deuteronomy 34.1-7 records the last events in his Earth-suit, which was left behind, as is stated in Jude 1.9. [Burying the Earth-suit is probably how the attendant because known as an ‘undertaker’, or one who takes the body and puts it under the topsoil.]
  4. We next see Moses with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration; see Matthew 17.1-8. Peter recognizes Moses and Elijah in their bodies; not Moses’ Earth-suit, which he left behind. And, Elijah’s Earth-suit must have been changed in the chariot, since his lungs could not have survived the thin-air ride to the Paradise of Hades (2 Kings 2.11). So, were their new suits capable of living both on Earth and in Paradise? Or, was the “veil” (2 Corinthians 3.18) removed from Peter’s eyes so he could look into the Intermediate or Present Heaven (like the prism refracting white light into it’s seven colors and energy or the names of Jehovah-rapha, etc. giving unique pictures of God)?
  5. Not to worry, for you will not have to ‘change clothes’; it will happen automatically. Traveling from Earth to the Paradise of Hades will only take a ‘twinkle’!

C. “All Aboard!”

Praise God!!! Copyright (C) by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com 170528

May 14, 2017 Two Heavens

Two Heavens

And you will enjoy both…. on Earth. As you can imagine, there is a lot to unpack with these statements. So, we will use an instruction you read in Psalms 3 & 4 and Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter three, “Selah”. Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that “Selah” is used 74 times in the Scriptures with, seemingly, different interpreted meanings from silence and pause to an end and division: even louder! I encourage you to pause to reflect upon the depth of the points I make and the Scripture references I include. Don’t worry, for we never leave Jesus’ and God’s presence in either.

A. Picture This

  1. After Jesus’ resurrection, He reveals Himself to Mary, who grabs hold of Him exclaiming, “Teacher!” He resists her hold, saying, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father….” (John 20.17).
  2. Psalm 110.1 is the ‘homecoming’ scene in Heaven.
  3. Now, Ephesians 4.9-10 is Apostle Paul’s understanding from the Holy Spirit of what happened between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He descended into Hades (Greek; Sheol – Hebrew; the abode of those who pass from this life and await eternity; Hosea 13.14) before He ascended (John 3.13).
  4. Jesus descended to carry out God’s judgment of Lucifer, spoken in Isaiah 14.12-15. Jesus states this intention in John 12.31. satan’s system of evil remains and is administered by his demon followers and, sometimes/mostly, through humans (Jeremiah 13.10).
  5. Jesus, also, delivered the their into Paradise, as He promised in Luke 23.43. Departed believers await there the events Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17. You and I will be in one of these two groups who rise to join Jesus “in the air”! [Until then, we are to act according to Ephesians 6.10-18 and declare the name, ‘Jesus’, as the ‘scepter’ of Psalm 110.2, remembering Philippians 2.9-11 and Revelation 1.16 & 15!]
  6. Paradise is another dimension of reality on Earth, as is discussed below. It is invisible to humans, who are visible; probably, vice versa.

B. Present Heaven

7. Because man (male and female; Genesis 1.27 & 2), is a spirit being (1 Thessalonians 5.23; Hebrews 4.12) and will live forever (James 2.26), God has given man a choice of eternal life or death, to be chosen while on Earth (Deuteronomy 30.15-20; John 3.16-18; Romans 1.18-32).

8. Be assured that God does not want anyone to perish; i.e., be separated from Him (1 Timothy 2.4 {Ezekiel 18.23}; 2 Peter 3.8-10 {2 Corinthians 5.19}).

9. But, some people will choose separation from God (Ezekiel 18.20a; sin connoted as rejecting God in Hebrews 11.6 {1 Chronicles 28.9; Jeremiah 29.12-14; John 4.24} and eternal torment.

1. At His Second Coming, Jesus will separate people into those who will “inherit the kingdom prepared for you” and those condemned to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25.31-46). John 14.6 is the differentiator, as Paul discusses in Acts 17.30-31.

2. Jesus’ story about the Rich Man and beggar Lazarus in Luke 16.19-31 describes these condemned who will—in the end—be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20.15 {2 Thessalonians 1.8-9} & 8 {Jude 7}). Jesus discusses this in John 15.6 regarding the pruned branches that will be gathered to be burned; similarly in Matthew 3.12 & 13.40.

3. The condemned are not, immediately, thrown into the Lake of Fire by Jesus but are held in ‘prison’ until the sentence is carried out at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20.11-15; remember that Jesus’ followers have already been Raptured from the Paradise of Hades; see 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15.51-53). In the meantime, these condemned are held in a separate part of Hades, away from we who are “inherit the kingdom prepared for” us. The Rich Man describes this place as fiery torment; see Luke 16.19-31. This might be the magma center of the Earth separated from the surface by miles and miles of dirt and rock, as Abraham connotes by statement.

10. Jesus contrasted the “Pit”, where He deposited satan (Isaiah 14.12-14; John 12.31), from the “Paradise” of Hades, which He assured the thief is where he would join Him at death that day (Luke 23.42-43). The thief would be there in spirit, but Jesus would be there in a glorified body (1 Corinthians 15.51-53 and John 20.19-20).

1. Randy Alcorn calls “present Heaven” what I call the “Paradise part of Hades”. I use “Paradise” because Jesus did with the thief. Alcorn contrasts “present Heaven” from “future Heaven”. He writes:

The present Heaven is a temporary lodging, a waiting place until the return of Christ and our bodily resurrection. The eternal Heaven, the New Earth, is our true home, the place where we will live forever with out Lord and each other. (Alcorn, 2004, p. 44)

2.Paradise or Present Heaven being on Earth can be understood as another or alternative universe and revealed by God to Gehazi the servant at Elisha’s request. 2 Kings 15-17 presents “horses and chariots of fire” in the alternative reality. Obviously, this was not the first time Elisha saw them. When and how did he learn about this alternative universe?

3.Similarly, Stephen was privileged to view this realm; see Acts 7.55-56. Verse 55 implies that the Holy Spirit opened Stephen’s eyes to this. Is this available to us, too? We have the Holy Spirit. Paul Taylor heard his recently—passed son say, “Dad, I’m okay.”

4. Paul writes about similar views, autobiographically I believe, in 2 Corinthians 12.2-4, remembering the event of Acts 14.19-20. Paul told Timothy (2.3-11) about this event, as is inferred.

5. Perhaps, Paul explains Jesus’ “transfiguration” (Matthew 17.1-18) in 2 Corinthians 3.18 as the “veil” being removed from the eyes of Peter, James, and John, so that they saw Jesus’ glory with Moses and Elijah in the Present Heaven.

6. What became of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2.4-3.24) after Adam and Eve were expelled for eating the forbidden fruit? Could it be just beyond the “veil” as the Present Heaven? Verse 3.24 tells us that a cherubim (Psalm 104.4) guards the Tree of Life in the Garden. Does Hebrews 13.2 mean that angels visit us from the Present Heaven?

7. King David gave Solomon the plans for building the first Temple and gathered the necessary materials, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 18.1-19, especially verses 11-19, attributing this to “the Lord”. He, also, gave Moses the plans for the Tabernacle; see Exodus 25.9 & 30. Note the similarities. We will see the original in the Present and/or Eternal Heaven.

8. Does this help to explain James 2.26?

9. Alcorn writes:

For those who have trouble accepting the reality of an unseen realm, consider the perspective of cutting—edge researchers who embrace string theory. Scientists at Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, among others, postulate that there are ten unobservable dimensions and likely an infinite number of imperceptible universes. If this is what leading scientists believe, why should anyone feel self-conscious about believing in one unobservable dimension, a realm containing angels and Heaven and Hell? (ibid, p. 48)

B. Selah.

Alcorn, R. 2004, Heaven. Carol Stream, IL. Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Praise God!!! Copyright (C) by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com
Two Heavens 170514

May 7, 2017 Short-term versus Long-term Thinking

Short-term versus Long-term Thinking

Ron Wayne should be the number two on the Forbes list of the richest people in the world, between Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. But, short-term thinking got the best of him. For, you see, he was an original founder of what became Apple computers, along with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. His investment in this garage startup was $800 for a 10% share. However, he cashed in for his $800 when things got tough, and another $1,500 for signing a full release of future claims. Had he not folded, his ten percent would be valued at about $76 Billion today!

So, what is your “share” of Heaven worth today? Because the Owner is Omniscient about the past and future, the commercial tag comes to mind: “priceless”. Why, then, do not more people accept John 14.6? This conundrum is explained by 2 Corinthians 4.3-4. One thread of the “veil” is revealed in 2 Timothy 1.7a. Among the many “fears” in satan’s arsenal of weapons is that of physical death. However, the greater “fear” for persons thus deceived should be the spiritual death described in Revelation 21.8 and 20.15 (also 20.14, 10 and 19.20 in order; fulfilling the contrasts in John 3.16-21). (This brings to mind Peter Drucker’s definition that long-range planing deals with the future of present decisions.)

A. Contrasting Views of Physical Death.

  1. Jesus’ story about the rich man and beggar in Luke 16.19-31 reveals that life continues after physical death.
  2. The rich man, who had had no mercy on the poor, even sick, beggar closed his eyes on Earth and opened them to the sight, smell and sensation of flaming torment. His pleas to Father Abraham (an illustrative picture of God) for some relief could not be honored because his past decisions dictated his present circumstances.
  3. By contrast, the beggar Lazarus rests comfortably upon Abraham’s chest. Lazarus had not given in to advice similar to Job’s wife (Job 2.9). He held to his integrity (defined as whole and undivided in moral principles; today’s contrasts in Matthew 13.20-22).
  4. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2.15-16: Christians remind those veiled unto perishing about their pending physical and spiritual death, while we remind those who have pierced the veil with John 14.6 about their pending spiritual life after a brief transition.

B. Follow the Leader

5. Paul, also, writes in Hebrews 2.14-15 that Jesus took on flesh (John 1.14) for two reasons:

  1. Jesus executed this plan for the repentant thief, and gave us another illustration, in Luke 23.43. This thief understood John 14.6 by observing and listening to Jesus on that Cross at Calvary.
  2. Jesus “released” the thief from satan’s fear of death just as He will you and me! (Google ‘Wintley Phipps’ and worship as he sings “No Need To Fear”.)
  3. James (2.26) describe physical death as removing a garment. Our spirits will be released to dwell with Jesus in Paradise! Our new bodies will follow later, as Paul reveals in 1 Corinthians 15.51-53 and 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17.
  4. Thus, like Jesus, we will repeat Paul’s Old Testament affirmation and questions in 1 Corinthians 15.54-55 leading to his exclamation in verse 57!
  • ‘”O Death, where is your sting?
  • O Hades, where is your victory?
  • Death is swallowed up in victory?
  • Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

C. “Do unto others….”

10. You probably can complete this verse, Matthew 7.12, from memory.

11. So, help those fearful of death with the Good News that they can have no fear of physical death by accepting John 14.6. No need to fear!

12. Wouldn’t you want them to do this for you?

D. Remember, long-term planning begins with decisions made today. Hebrews 3.13!

April, 30, 2017 Eternity in Their Hearts

Eternity in Their Hearts

           King Solomon expresses in Ecclesiastes 3.11 mankind’s never ending search for something that will bring satisfaction: “God has put eternity in their hearts.” John MacArthur comments: “God made men for his eternal purpose, and nothing in post-fall time can bring them complete satisfaction” (MacArthur Study Bible). The continuation of Solomon’s statement gives his understanding that God is infinite in past and future. Consider, then, man’s life-long discovery through His encouragement in Jeremiah 9.23-24: “understand and know Me”.

          Ecclesiastes records Solomon’s search and is an illustration of Jeremiah 13.10. The continual stream of new apps for smartphones, entrepreneurial disruption of established products, and the migration of people from established Christian churches into nonaffiliated individual relationships with God illustrate Solomon’s observation about man’s unending search for satisfaction. (Austrian-born American economist and Harvard professor, Joseph Schumpeter, name such displacement of old with new “creative destruction”.) But, Solomon’s conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12.13-14 is where everyone should arrive, a reversal of the trend of Jeremiah 13.10, although some may remain lost in their imaginations for long times, as Paul criticizes in Acts 17.22-31 (especially verse 27) and in Galatians 1.4.

A. Even the earliest records, before Solomon, express mankind’s search and conclusion.

  1. Adam’s son is referenced as searching for a relationship with God; see Genesis 4.26. Why did this occur at the birth of Enosh?
  2. For instance, Job 19.25-27. Note the actualities Job confidently declares: God lives (how did he know?), man will stand before Him in the flesh (accountability for his ‘Earth-suit’?), his eyes will see God (John 4.24), and his heart ‘yearns’ (NJKV) for God! Does yours? How did Job come to such understandings? Jeremiah 9.23-24?
  3. Paul declares similarly about Abraham in Hebrews 11.9-10; see Genesis 13.3-4. This was Paul’s search, too, as he states in Hebrews 13.14 and describes in Hebrews 12.22-24.
  4. Ezekiel (43.6-7a) envisions being before the “Judge” (Hebrews 12.23) and hearing Him speak words of comfort.
  5. Psalmist King David expresses the same in Psalm 17.15 (“awake in Your likeness”?), 13-14 and 110.1 (even acknowledging the Savior, Son of God!). How did David know these details?
  6. Jesus confirmed the same Good News in Matthew 5.8.
  7. Eternity was in their hearts and remains in ours. How aware are you of this search for God?

B. Jesus reassured His apostles and disciples of the reliability of these statements.

8. In John 14.1-4, Jesus comforts hearts troubled by His earlier declarations that He would soon be leaving Earth for Heaven; see Matthew 16.21-28, Mark 8.31-9.1, Luke 9.22-27, 17.12, 22-23, 20.17-19. Jesus repeats the same message of betrayal, suffering, death, and resurrection. What ‘comfort’ did He offer?

9. In John 13.36, Jesus assured Peter, and us, that he would follow Him later. (How does the ESV rendering of John 14.2 a question (“’If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”’) change the meaning from the rendering of the verse as a declarative statement in the NKJV and NASB?)

10 Peter (2.1.14) would reflect on trusting Jesus’ assurance later. All believers, also, have or will experience Peter’s reflection, as James (2.26) states.

11. In John 16.5, Jesus seems to be surprised that the disciples had not asked where He was going. Why do you think He expressed this? Didn’t they understand or did they?

12. This leads, then, to the question, what is the proper mix of sadness and joyousness when a Christian passes away? What does each recognize? Upon which should we dwell?

13. How does Jesus’ only other comment about Heaven, in Luke 23.43, reflect this? How should Galatians 1.4 impact our consideration?

14. The Lamb’s Book of Life/Book of Life includes the names of all who have received the truth (John 1.12) of John 14.6. This Book is mentioned in Revelation 3.5 and 20.12-15 of the New Testament and, I believe, in Psalm 69.28 and Exodus 32.32-33 of the Old Testament, although some scholars his (OT) means this earthly life.

C. What about you?

  1. Are you willing to put up with the inconvenience of this world because you long for the next, where God dwells? Or, have philosophies and bangles come to entrap you; Galatians 1.4? How do you know? Matthew 6.21.
  2. The unholy cannot occupy the holy residence of God; 1 Corinthians 15.50-58.
  3. Man will never be satisfied with his imaginations; for, he longs for the One Whose breath still fills the lungs of each new generation. satan only distracts with temporary satisfaction (2 Corinthians 4.3-4); not long term, because he is incapable of fulfilling man.
  4. Only God can; Jeremiah 13.10 and John 14.2. Does your heart ‘yearn’ like Job’s (27, NKJV)?

Praise God!!! Copyright (C) by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com 170423

April 23, 2017 Eternity in Their Hearts

Eternity in Their Hearts

    King Solomon expresses in Ecclesiastes 3.11 mankind’s never ending search for something that will bring satisfaction: “God has put eternity in their hearts.” John MacArthur comments: “God made men for his eternal purpose, and nothing in post-fall time can bring them complete satisfaction” (MacArthur Study Bible). The continuation of Solomon’s statement gives his understanding that God is infinite in past and future. Consider, then, man’s life-long discovery through His encouragement in Jeremiah 9.23-24: “understand and know Me”.

    Ecclesiastes records Solomon’s search and is an illustration of Jeremiah 13.10. The continual stream of new apps for smartphones, entrepreneurial disruption of established products, and the migration of people from established Christian churches into nonaffiliated individual relationships with God illustrate Solomon’s observation about man’s unending search for satisfaction. (Austrian-born American economist and Harvard professor, Joseph Schumpeter, name such displacement of old with new “creative destruction”.) But, Solomon’s conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12.13-14 is where everyone should arrive, a reversal of the trend of Jeremiah 13.10, although some may remain lost in their imaginations for long times, as Paul criticizes in Acts 17.22-31 (especially verse 27) and in Galatians 1.4.

A. Even the earliest records, before Solomon, express mankind’s search and conclusion.

  1. Adam’s grandson is referenced as searching for a relationship with God; see Genesis 4.26.
  2. For instance, Job 19.25-27. Note the actualities Job confidently declares: God lives (how did he know?), man will stand before Him in the flesh (accountability for his ‘Earth-suit’?), his eyes will see God (John 4.24), and his heart ‘yearns’ (NJKV) for God! Does yours? How did Job come to such understandings? Jeremiah 9.23-24?
  3. Paul declares similarly about Abraham in Hebrews 11.9-10; see Genesis 13.3-4. This was Paul’s search, too, as he states in Hebrews 13.14 and describes in Hebrews 12.22-24.
  4. Ezekiel (43.6-7a) envisions being before the “Judge” (Hebrews 12.23) and hearing Him speak words of comfort.
  5. Psalmist King David expresses the same in Psalm 17.15 (“awake in Your likeness”?), 13-14 and 110.1 (even acknowledging the Savior, Son of God!). How did David know these details?
  6. Jesus confirmed the same Good News in Matthew 5.8.
  7. Eternity was in their hearts and remains in ours. How aware are you of this?

B. Jesus reassured His apostles and disciples of the reliability of these statements.

  1. In John 14.1-4, Jesus comforts hearts troubled by His earlier declarations that He would soon be leaving Earth for Heaven; see Matthew 16.21-28, Mark 8.31-9.1, Luke 9.22-27, 17.12, 22-23, 20.17-19. Jesus repeats the same message of betrayal, suffering, death, and resurrection. What ‘comfort’ did He offer?
  2. In John 13.36, Jesus assured Peter, and us, that he would follow Him later. (How does the ESV rendering of John 14.2 a question (“’If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”’) change the meaning from the rendering of the verse as a declarative statement in the NKJV and NASB?) Peter (2.1.14) would reflect on trusting Jesus’ assurance later.
  3. All believers, also, have or will experience Peter’s reflection, as James (2.26) states.
  4. The Lamb’s Book of Life/Book of Life includes the names of all who have received the truth (John 1.12) of John 14.6. This Book is mentioned in Revelation 3.5 and 20.12-15 of the New Testament and, I believe, in Psalm 69.28 and Exodus 32.32-33 of the Old Testament, although some scholars his (OT) means this earthly life.

C. What about you?

  1. Are you willing to put up with the inconvenience of this world because you long for the next, where God dwells? Or, have philosophies and bangles come to entrap you; Galatians 1.4? How do you know? Matthew 6.21.
  2. The unholy cannot occupy the holy residence of God; 1 Corinthians 15.50-58.
  3. Man will never be satisfied with his imaginations; for, he longs for the One Whose breath still fills the lungs of each new generation. satan only distracts with temporary satisfaction (2 Corinthians 4.3-4); not long term, because he is incapable of fulfilling man.
  4. Only God can; Jeremiah 13.10 and John 14.2. Does your heart ‘yearn’ like Job’s (27, NKJV)?

Praise God!!! Copyright (C) by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com 170423

April 9, 2017 “So What is Your Story?”

“So, what’s your story?”

This line from the movie, Pretty Woman, focuses Christians upon the critical element of our effectiveness in witnessing to others in this world. Each of our life-stories is unique in many ways to which other persons can relate. The Holy Spirit knows which story will be important to the one He is drawing to Christ and connects us, on an airplane, in a restaurant, at the gym, etc. Is your story ready to tell? As Jesus said, “‘you shall be witnessed to Me’” (Acts 1.8, NKJV). And, Peter (1.3.15) reminds us to always be ready to give inquirers a reason for our faith

A. Content

  1. Soren Kierkegaard framed our perspectives in his quote: “Life is lived forward but understood backward.”
  2. God’s favorite expression of this perspective was “remember”, as in Joshua 4:20-24, Isaiah 44:21-23, Psalm 77.11-15, and Deuteronomy 8:18 & 29.2-10.
  3. What would the Apostles and disciples of Jesus remember?
    1. Mark 6:30-44: Feeding 5,000 men and their families!
    2. Mark 6:53-56: Healing all who believed He could!
    3. Mark 4:35-41: Calming the raging sea and blustery wind!
    4. Mark 5:21-43: Restoring life within the little girl!
    5. John 15:24: Manifestations of God that the Pharisees missed!
    6. John 19:28-30: Finishing His task of saving followers eternally!
    7. Acts 1:3: Observing Jesus’ “many infallible proofs” after His resurrection!

See John 20:1-21:25, Luke 24:13-53, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

  1. So, what’s your story about Jesus providing food you did not have, healing your aching body, calming your troubled mind, resurrection a damaged relationship, and convincing you of His finished work for your eternal salvation? Remember!
  2. Your content will communicate your gratitude and be infectious to those with similar life experiences. They are looking for the hope you have found!

B.  Power

  1. The Source of our success in life and for witnessing is found in God’s words to Zerubbabel, in Zechariah 4.6: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.’”
  2. Jesus instructed the Apostles and disciples to await the Holy Spirit’s entrance and to receive His power; Acts 1.4-8.
  3. Thus, their stories would become empowered to connect to the needs of their hearers.

[A similar illustration of this is Paul’s pronouncement of protocol in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5. God’s power is most important to be experienced by others.]

  1. Allow me to give a personal illustration.
    1. God sat Erin in the seat beside me on my flight last Saturday morning from Atlanta to Nashville. She was coming to visit her mother who was in town for a meeting over the weekend. Erin will graduate in May with a Master of Arts in Social Work with an emphasis on mental health. Although I was tired from a long flight from the Middle East and just wanted to listen to a podcast, the Holy Spirit urged me to converse with Erin, who was reading a book. After several Holy nudges and an opportune announcement, I began to inquiry about her degree and future work. The Holy Spirit engaged us through a discussion of the causes of mental illness. This allowed me to posit the place of sin as a cause. Dialogue led to God’s righteousness requirement when He will judge the world in the end of time. Her demeanor expressed engagement. She had stated earlier her disdain for “religion” and for people who tried to convince others away from their personal connections with God. The Holy Spirit had me on that edge. In the end, she understood that the works of her childhood Catholic traditions and personal adult philosophies would not answer satisfactorily God’s final question: why should I let you into Heaven? She had heard John 14:6 but was unwilling, then, to accept Jesus’ salvation. But, I was confident that my words had been guided by the Holy Spirit to address a contemplation she had been reviewing.
    2. The Holy Spirit affirmed that I had completed His assignment of me to only water seed that He had planted. Knowing that God’s word does not return void (Isaiah 55.11), I pray for the person He will send to harvest the crop of Erin’s salvation! Please join my prayers for Erin.

C. Content + Power = Reconciliation

  1. In Acts 1.8, Jesus says that the content of the stories of the Apostles and disciples will become empowered by the Holy Spirit so that ‘”you SHALL be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’” (NKJV; my emphasis).
  2. Jerusalem is where you are best know by your behavior; home and place of work.
  3. Judea and Samaria are friends and acquaintances of vary closeness to you.
  4. The ‘end of the earth’ is where people don’t know you: another part of this town, another city in the state, another state in this nation, or another nation of this world.
  5. You will witness in each of these proximities because the Holy Spirit knows your story and the parts that will connect with someone He is leading to faith in Jesus.
  6. So, how does your story connect you to Jesus?

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2017 Instructions and Feedback

Instructions and Feedback

In Matthew 25.14-30, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents to illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember that He had instructed that we should pray for the Kingdom of Heaven to come to Earth, in Matthew 6.10, where, He said, the will of God would be done just like in Heaven. The three servants receiving the talents might be viewed as a body’s limbs receiving “motor” impulses from the Head, using Paul’s picture from Ephesians 1.22-23, and sending back “sensory” impulses through the 43 pairs of nerves in the human nervous system (see The Spiritual Nervous System for 170219 at www.sozoclass.com). For example, your two legs run to the scope and sequence of motor and sensory impulses to and from the quadriceps and calf (gastrocnemius and soleus) muscles in each. The servant receiving five talents ran faster and, thus, farther than the one receiving two, to complete the illustration. So, why did the servant receiving the single talent, motor impulse, not return with two, a like sensory response?

One of several explanations might be his misunderstanding of the motor impulse. In his prayer of Ephesians 1.15-23, Paul for understandings of the “hope of His calling”, of His “rich inheritance in the saints”, and of His “exceeding great power toward” believers (verses 18-19). Herein we have the formula for success in any endeavor: hope = (understanding of the requirements for hope and of the available resources) x (effort made to contemplate these, expressed in desired exponential). The exponential ‘effort made to contemplate’ might include dialogue with someone knowledgeable about aspects or views of the hope and how the resources have been or might be effectively combined to produce the hope. For example, the hope of self- driving vehicles is resulting from the thoughtful combination of hardware and software produced by many different technologists, in group, overcoming each new barrier that clouds the dream. The third servant was unwilling to challenge his perceived barrier to obeying the king, with a disastrous result.

Now, to return to the spiritual lesson, Jesus, the Head, sends motor impulses through the Holy Spirit to prompt our (the body’s) words of witness and/or acts of service to lost and saved persons to increase their understanding of His calling (John 3.16; Jeremiah 1.5; John 3.27; Matthew 25.31-46). Our timidity is overcome and our pictures of personal success are clarified by our time in prayers for courage and our review of relevant Scripture verses and examples. The person’s joyous reception of this good news becomes our sensory response back through the Holy Spirit to Jesus, prompting His, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”

So, don’t hide the talent God has given you. Rather, ask Him how He wants you to use it to accomplish the task He has assigned. He provides the resources and is patient until you understand. Consider Moses’ example in Exodus 3.1-4.17. Thus, the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth, and the will of God is done on Earth just like it is done in Heaven…through us.

170226 Praise God!!! Copyright (C) by Maurice Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com